With Canada becoming a choice destination for immigrants, there seems to be an increase in immigration scams. Reminiscent of the US Visa Lottery program, one of the schemes devised by fraudsters targeting aspiring immigrants to Canada is the promotion of a fake online visa program called “Canada Visa Lottery Application”. In the past weeks and months, I have received so many messages from family and friends asking me to confirm if this is true. Since anyone is susceptible to being defrauded, the Canadian government ensures that immigration to the country is only through programs they run at the federal level or by its provinces and territories.
Whether you plan to come to Canada as a student or as a permanent resident, you have the choice of using a representative to act on your behalf during the application process. If you are hiring a paid representative, it is your duty to find out if they are authorized to work in that capacity. Luckily, there is a regulatory body called the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) set up to safeguard immigration consumers worldwide. ICCRC is a national regulatory body that serves and protects the public by overseeing the activities of licensed immigration consultants. Licensed immigration consultants are known as Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs). As its mandate, the ICCRC sets up entry-to-practice requirements of applicants seeking admission into the immigration industry; licenses and oversees their professional development and conduct; receives, investigates and adjudicates complaints by consumers; and administers a disciplinary process to sanction its regulated members that fail to meet the regulator’s standards. Don’t forget, even individuals who operate their immigration consultancy outside Canada are also subject to ICCRC regulations.
The ICCRC has over 4200 immigration consultants in Canada and abroad as its members, so you’re not short of options. They are there to provide the following services: explain and give advice on your immigration or citizenship options; help you choose the best immigration program for you; fill out and submit your immigration or citizenship applications; communicate with the Government of Canada on your behalf and represent you in an immigration or citizenship application hearing. So before making that payment to anyone that’s offering to assist you with your applications, find out if they are a member-in-good-standing of the ICCRC. How? Go to their recently revamped website and click on ‘Find an Immigration Professional’ and search for the name of the consultant. Once his/her status is ‘Active’, you are good to go. There’s also a process to report a defaulting immigration professional. Just follow the instructions on their website under ‘File a Complaint’.
So, if you plan to move to Canada either for work, to study or as a permanent resident through the Federal Immigration Programs or any of the Provincial Nominee Programs, you have to be aware that no one is allowed to pose as an immigration consultant and operate an immigration company without being a registered member of the ICCRC except of course, they do it without charging a fee or being compensated in anyway. Besides, the government website has all the information needed and is accessible to everyone. Other professionals who can charge a fee for Immigration services are lawyers and paralegals who are members in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society and notaries who are members in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Quebec. Well now you know…… don’t be a victim of immigration scams or unauthorized representatives. Do the needful, stay enlightened!